Pleistocene hominins in the African savannah: the evolution of male reproduction in the first hunter-gatherers

Theme: Past Life & Environments

Main Supervisor:

Lucio Vinicius

Anthropology, UCL

Second Supervisor:

Nicholas Pound

Psychology, BRUNEL

Project Description:

The most unique features of modern human life history originally evolved in hunter-gathering Pleistocene hominins in the African savannah. While menopause has been intensely investigated, the low levels of late-life reproduction of hunter-gathering men have been virtually neglected. Few studies of mate choice have been performed in male hunter-gatherers, and psychological mechanisms explaining their early reproductive cessation remain unknown.

This project investigates the evolution of reproductive timing and mate choice in hunter-gathering males based on (i) agent-based simulations of male reproductive evolution in the past environments experienced by Pleistocene hominins (large-game hunting, food uncertainty, high mobility), and (ii) tests of model predictions though an experimental study of mate choice patterns, facial and body shape preferences in the Aka (Congo) and Aeta (Philippines) hunter-gatherers.

Policy Impact of Research:

Agent-based simulations can extend our limited knowledge of relationship between environmental conditions in the African savannah during the Pleistocene and the evolution of mate choice and reproductive senescence in male hunter-gatherers.

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